Sunday, February 6, 2011

More Arguments Muslims Should Not Use

This is a continuation of my Top Five Arguments Muslims Need to Stop Using Against Christians (link). It is, like that post, written for the benefit (and not insult) of Muslim readers, and with the hopes of improving dialogue between the two religious groups.

6. You can't trust the Bible because of all the translations.

For some odd reason this is a popular argument, used by apologists such as Yusuf Estes and even lay Muslims defending the authenticity of the Quran. Basically, the argument is that while there are dozens of translations of the Bible, there is only one Arabic Quran, and because of the countless translations you can't trust what the Bible says, as it must have been tarnished over time.

I say "odd" not out of intent to insult, but's just so fallacious. Translations have nothing to do with the original language of a document, and generally we have the original document to go back to in order to know what it originally said. In fact, there are many translations of the Quran itself, and therefore by the Muslim's own logic the Quran itself cannot be trusted.

7. Every prophet has a sign related to the people: Moses did signs against Pharaoh's sorcery; Jesus did healing miracles during a time of great medicine; so of course, Mohammad gave a well written book during a time of great literacy.

This is another popular argument, and one that I've seen float around the internet in various Muslim circles. In the past few months I've seen it used maybe around three times.

The main fallacy here is that it is based off a presupposition: the prophets were always giving signs correlating to the golden ages of their times. Quite simply put, that's nowhere to be found in scripture. This argumentation did not come about until Islamic apologists began to seriously deal with the contradictions between their religion and the revelations given before it, and had to deal with them. In an attempt to show how the only great "miracle" of Mohammad's prophethood (the Quran) could still be valid with what came before, this argument had to be invented.

Stating that Moses was given signs of wonder to counteract the sorcery of Pharaoh's magicians is simply false. It is not found in God's words to Moses concerning the first few miracles:
Then Moses said, "What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, 'The LORD has not appeared to you.'" The LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" And he said, "A staff."

Then He said, "Throw it on the ground." So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. But the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail"--so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand--"that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you."

The LORD furthermore said to him, "Now put your hand into your bosom." So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then He said, "Put your hand into your bosom again." So he put his hand into his bosom again, and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh.

"If they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign. But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground." [Exodus 4:1-9]
The signs were given not to confront Pharaoh's sorcerers, but to prove to the people who Moses was sent by. This is seen later on in the same chapter:
Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel; and Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses He then performed the signs in the sight of the people. So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped. [Exodus 4:29-31]
Now, the argument that Jesus did healing miracles because He lived in a time of great medicine is likewise fallacious, and for two reasons:

1) If Christ was supposed to have come at a time of great medical advancements, He came at the wrong time and in the wrong place. Medical studies had advanced thanks to Hippocrates at the turn of the fourth century BC (some 400 years before Christ's birth), but afterward stalled, and the study would not advance again until the middle to late second century (more than 100 years after Christ's ministry) with the Roman physician Galen. Likewise, it was mostly appreciated among the Greeks and Gentiles, not first century Palestinian Jews...who, incidentally, are the only people Muslims claim Christ came to address. Therefore, Christ came during a period of medical stagnation, not growth, and He came to the people who would have appreciated medicinal advancements the least.

Some might argue, "But still, there was a lot better medicine during Christ's time than before Hippocrates's time." However, it was hardly the time of "great" medicine, and if we're going by the standards of how great medicinal practices were, then why didn't Christ appear today? After all, isn't medicine much better now than it was 2000 years ago? Especially with the fact that so much of it is done with technological methods - just imagine how much awe would come from a man who could heal simply by human touch. You see, when you take this argument and really analyze it, you discover just how incredibly subjective it truly is.

2) In regards to Christ and His miracles, it must first be noted that His healing miracles were not solely for healing, but to prove who He was. When confronted by the Pharisees over His forgiving of the paralytic's sins, Christ replied that it was done "so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Matt 9:6). When Christ performed miracles in John's gospel, it was written that these were done to manifest His glory (cf. John 2:11). No where does Christ say, "I'm healing people because a lot of good doctors live around here."

Also, Christ's miracles were not isolated to physical healing. Many of His miracles, such as with the loaves and the fish, involved food. In fact, in the gospel of John it is one of the seven major signs that Christ performs to show His power - are we to say that Christ was a prophet sent at a time of great feasting? Or that Christ gave signs with food because He lived in a time of great culinary arts? Or that Christ had come to a people who would appreciate a good dinner?

Again, this argument is inventing a new standard which is completely foreign to the revelations that came before the Quran, and is entirely subjective to the person making it.

8. You can't say Mohammad met a false angel because angels are loyal messengers of God and follow him faithfully.

While this argument will immediately sound strange to Christians, the root of this thinking may be in the Muslim understanding of what an angel is. Whereas in Christianity a demon is a fallen angel that rebelled against God, in Islam there are angels and jinn, with the jinn having been created separately from the angels. Unlike in Christianity, where some of the angels rebelled against God and thus became demons, in Islamic theology the jinn were created by Allah from fire separately from the angels, who were created from light. Some verses regarding this:
He [Allah] said: What hindered you so that you did not prostrate when I commanded you? He [Iblis/Satan] said: I am better than he: Thou hast created me of fire, while him Thou didst create of dust. [S. 7:12; M. Shakir]

And the jinn We created before, of intensely hot fire. [S. 15:27]

And He created the jinn of a flame of fire. [S. 55:15]
And to quote a hadith:
According to one prophetic narration that was narrated by 'Aa'ishah may Allaah be pleased with her the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam (may Allaah exalt his mention) said: "The angels were created from light, the jinn were created from fire, and Aadam was created from that which has been described to you (soil)." [Muslim] [source]
To a Muslim, an angel cannot fall and cannot disobey God, and therefore the idea that the demons (or jinn) are fallen angels is foreign to them.

Yet even with this distinction, the mere fact that we are simply supposed to accept the word of an angel is deeply erroneous and incredibly fallacious. According to this, Muslims should become Mormon because Joseph Smith received special instructions and revelation from an angel. Also, any Word of Faith preacher who claims to have met an angel who taught them heretical doctrine must, by the Muslim's logic, be telling the truth. In fact, any cult leader or founder of a false religion who claimed to have received revelation from an angel must be telling the truth. Any Muslim, therefore, who wishes to make this argument must then explain to us why they are not Mormon or a member of any Word of Faith or pseudo-Christian cult. That is, if they wish to remain consistent with this logic.

Christians, of course, have very important standards when it comes to supposed revelations from angels:
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! [Galatians 1:8]

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. [2 Corinthians 11:13-14]